Harassment and Intimidation : Commissioner Thorpe Exposes World Bank Employee

Posted by Mohamed Konneh on Sep 14, 2007, 02:13

The results released by the National Electoral Commission yesterday clearly put Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress Party in a comfortable lead with 859,144 and the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party candidate Vice President Solomon Berewa struggling behind with 567,449.

A total of 76.1% of the results so far have been reported from 4,687 polling stations. Valid votes stand at 1,427,280 while the invalid votes 36,694 making a total of 1,463,974 counted so far. The national average turnout of voters represents 72.7 percents. Speaking at the usual press briefing at the British Council in Freetown yesterday, the National Returning Officer and Chairperson of the NEC, Dr. Christiana Thorpe maintained that the commission has endeavored to include as much information in the result database as possible, making sure that progress is made on the results from all districts in the country.

The verification process she explained continues in order to ensure that the official results are indeed those recorded in the polling stations and accurately reflect the will of the voters. The NEC has even noted results with turn-out of 100% and over. At a meeting held on the 11th September 2007, the commissioner unanimously took the following decisions in the handling of cases with unusual high turn-out. In cases where voter turn-out is between 95% in a polling station, the NEC will conduct an investigation if the station has been the object of complaints, or is named in the incident report from the district office,

In cases where the voter turn-out is at 100%, an investigation will be conducted in all cases, and in cases of voter turn-out exceeding 100%, the station results will be automatically invalidated.

The Dr. Thorpe said that she would like to report an increase in the number of threatening and intimidating calls and messages to NEC officials over the past few days. “I would like to especially request Mr. Maada Ngombu of the World Bank project NDB building to stop abusing and intimidating staff members of the commission and desist from instructing me on my duties’ she warned, adding that his duties at the Transitional Support Secretariat ended with the recruitment of the commission’s core staff.

The NEC boss said adding that, misusing the telephone numbers of members of commission acquired during the period was not to be used to threaten and intimidate staff at this time, to say the least; she described his behaviour as “unprofessional”. Dr. Thorpe further explained that some members of the print and electronic media seem to be engaged in a scheme to deliberately misinform the public, despite the commission’s attempt to keep the nation informed through regular updates. The final certified declaration of results rests with the NEC she observed.

No press briefing she said would be conducted today until Monday 17th September 2007, when the remaining cumulative results will be presented to the public.




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